Recently I found these two quotes:

David Simon, creator of THE WIRE: "We start with a theme, or a situation and then come up with the best characters to tell it."

Elmore Leonard, novelist: "I start with a character and think about the kind of situations he can be in,"

So, what do you think?

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Some stories are driven by character, others by plot. Both are acceptable, never forget the importance of the character's actions. How does he react to the stimuli you provide? How would you react. What do you expect your reader to do to? Will he sit around till you get to the point, or will he lay the book back down?

Raymond Chandler once wrote, "When in doubt have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand." Well, this can eventually get pretty chaotic, but, his point is well taken. You gotta keep the reader turning the pages.

I like to use a lot of white spaces, keep detail to a minimum, Leonard's vintage comment; "I try not to write the parts people don't read." Something like that.

So, to answer the question, it depends...

Remember Elmore Leonard’s golden rule:
‘If it sounds like writing, re-write it.’
I think all that you said is true for a lot of people, but not for me. I think Raymond Chandler's advice is ill-founded. He saying just throw in some action if you're stuck, but to me, it's like Barry Bonds taking steroids and then breaking Hank Aaron's homerun record. It's fake, and everyone knows it. A good story will naturally progress. If the story is losing interest, then adding something to spice it up won't be enough to save the story. And Chandler's advice also runs on the notion that only action will keep a reader entertained. For some readers that's true, but not all of them. If the characters are real, if they feel alive to you, then you'd probably happily go along with them as they file their taxes.

I like detail, so keeping detail to a minimum is no good for me. Not writing the parts people don't read is a whole lot easier when you have good characters, because then you don't have to have a lot of action to keep the story moving along. Some of my favorite books are ones where not much actually happens. But as I said, not everyone is like that.
I like detail, my darn self, John. In fact, I think you can keep that moving along & of interest to your reader. I don't like a lot of heavy pages stacked on top of each other, though. The detail has to improve the story.
I read where Simon said Stringer Bell had to die because the story demanded it, and everything is subordinate to the story. I think this becomes a "chicken and the egg" question when it's done well.No one has stronger characters than THE WIRE, yet Simon is story-driven. A good story will fall flat without adequate characters. Leonard starts with characters, but his stories all move right along. I suspect the ideal is a merging of the two.
I've written stories both ways. I don't think either way is "best" - writers may have a preference either way, but just because that way works best for them doesn't mean it's best for every writer. Sort of like outlining vs. winging it (which I've also done both of).

Also not sure that these two views aren't influenced by TV writing vs. novel writing. Does Paul Guyot hang out here anymore? I'd love to see his take.
Interesting insight. But then a lot of novels are influenced by TV or film. So are a lot of readers.
I don't watch t.v.---I hate commercials.
Prerecord and FF through the commercials. :)
I watch a lot of stuff on DVD like The Wire, The Sopranos, Rome, that kind of thing. It`s cheaper than cable.

But I do think there`s quite a different approach to the writing of these kinds of limited series and novels. In some ways these series ARE novels, just written by more than one person.
Have you watched any Japanese dramas? Their characters are way more realistic than anything I've seen on American TV in a long time (I haven't seen The Wire, so I can't comment on that), and the Japanese format is that there is a set number of episodes (usually 10-12) so that you get a complete storyline. As a specific example, the drama Unfair has great characters and an interesting story. Also, a lot of Asian dramas are adaptations of novels or comic books.
ooh I just told him that. didn't see your reply! rats.
do what I do--record everything and flash past them!
having said that, I watch very little tv.


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